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The equipment used for the post-harvest treatment and preservation of durable and perishable produce includes cleaners, sorters and graders, fans (for fresh air ventilation and fumigation), dryers, refrigeration, controlled atmosphere equipment, conveyors, and handling, packaging and labeling equipment (see also, Equipment for Post-harvest Preservation and Treatment of Produce).
In addition, some (but not all) mechanization is subject to genuine economies of scale: it is technically more efficient to design a large rather than a small machine. Even machines invented in countries with abundant labor (and therefore smaller farms) were first developed for the largest farms, because they had the lowest costs of capital relative to labor.The market for machines expanded to smaller farms only when labor costs rose or capital became more abundant. In the history of engineering, technical developments have often been embodied in smaller and smaller machines.

It is thus no accident that rental markets for threshing machines were well established in the nineteenth century in the United States and are now common all over Asia (Gardezi and others 1979; Walker and Kshirsagar 1981). The contract-hire system for combines in the United States illustrates the problem of synchronized timing. The contractors achieve higher rates of machinery utilization by migrating to follow the harvest from the TexasOklahoma area to the northern states, where harvesting takes place months later. And in China the number of threshers alone exceeded the combined total of tractors and power tillers, even in 1980. In all of Asia mechanical rice milling for large trade quantities had already been introduced in the late nineteenth century, usually based on steam and later on internal combustion engines. Smaller rice mills have swept across Asia since the 1950s; it is hard to find villages where rice is still pounded by hand.

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By the 1880s combines drawn by between twenty-four and forty horses reaped ten to fifteen hectares a day in California. In the 1890s combines drawn by steam tractors had a capacity of up to twenty hectares of wheat a day (van Bath 1960; USDA 1960), but combines did not spread beyond California until 1914.On a smaller scale, responses have been equally rapid in economies as diverse as Thailand and Mexico. In the developed world, government policy toward mechanization has been confined to patent laws for enforcing innovator's rights and encouraging disclosure; testing of machinery, support of standardization measures, and dissemination of information; and support of agricultural engineering education and some university-based research. These are clearly appropriate interventions. Unlike the case of agricultural research, it is difficult to make a case for any further intervention on the grounds of economic welfare. Where governments have intervened more, they have either had little success, as in numerous publicly funded research efforts, or they have made wrong or controversial choices.'

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